Our thoughts are with the families of those who lost their lives in yesterday’s extreme weather.
In Teignmouth, we were on the edge of it.
Blue Mistress was snug, but the wind was blowing downriver and the incoming tide made for choppy water. In these conditions, there is a tendency for the boat to ride onto the mooring buoy. This has damaged the bow in the past. Padding the shackle and swivel has helped.
The two rows of moorings in the centre of the stream are swing moorings, the shallower moorings at the edge of the stream are fore-and-aft. The long keels of the Folksong and the Contessa 26 are holding the vessels more or less to the tide, whereas the three fin-keeled yachts beyond them are being swung by the wind.
The effect of the wind against the tide is more obvious here. The wind is pushing the two bigger yachts side on to the tide, hence the heeling. The gentleman aboard the far boat is waiting for it to float.
All the while, the bridge was whistling.
Images by Bill Whateley
I am aboard the Westcountry trading ketch ‘Bessie Ellen’ (built in 1904) thinking of her as a bridge to the Westcountry trading ketch ‘Ceres’ (1811-1936). I have six men in mind – Henry Petherick, William and Walter Petherick. Barnabas Shazell and Donald and Alfred Petherick, three generations of the same family, each man closely involved with running ‘Ceres’.
I have been wondering about the term ‘master mariner’. An official definition is: “A Master Mariner is the professional qualification required for someone to serve as the Captain of a commercial vessel of any size, of any type, operating anywhere in the world.”
I’m not thinking of the official qualification, designed to satisfy a regulating authority, I’m thinking of what it takes to be a master mariner in sailing vessels like ‘Ceres’ and ‘Bessie Ellen’.
We spent a day in Fowey while the mainsail was repaired – an excellent repair by the sail loft at Toms Boatyard in Polruan, and returned to the Helford River the following day. The pub at Helford Passage was welcoming, the meal back on board the usual high standard, and the bunk . . . . well, I don’t remember.
This will be the last day of my first voyage on a trading ketch. I am comfortable with my place on the ship. I know where I stand. If I were to apply for a job, I wouldn’t employ me yet. But that’s ok, I know what I would have to do to get there.
The next day, the weather changes, the wind comes from slightly east of south. It is Force 4 when we leave Newlyn, although it rises to 5 later The rain sets in and visibility is poor. The sea is ‘moderate’.
The sea has been ‘moderate’ – (slightly lumpy), during the night, but has settled to ‘slight’ – (that’s calm to you and me), at breakfast. The sun shone and Pendeen is in sight, soon to be followed by Cape Cornwall. Some days are perfect.
It is 2300 on our second night at sea. The promised storm is two days away. It is a fine, star-lit night. We are keeping close to the Irish coast as the tide is more favourable here. The lights of Dublin are beginning to loom on the horizon ahead of us.
We had the tide through the North Channel and Beauforts Dyke. During the day we have seen the Mull of Kintyre, the Mull of Galloway, Belfast Lough and the entrance to Strangford Lough, as well as the Isle of Man. We are very approximately at the focal point between Scotland, Ireland, England, Wales and Cornwall I mentioned in the first of this series.
We join ‘Bessie Ellen’ after lunch. In the morning she came into Oban, rafted to VIC32
and took on fuel before going round to the pontoon to offload guests and prepare for new ones.
Loaded and instructed in safety measures, we leave the berth and the skipper pilots us out of Oban and down the Sound of Kerrera.
I was anxious about joining a crewed vessel. I mostly sail single-handed and have single-handed ways – I can spit over the side, eat at irregular hours, not change my clothes, leave my bunk unmade and so on. How would it be with a group? With people who are younger and fitter? More experienced? More talented? What about sleeping arrangements and so on?